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JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The attorney general Thursday said Missouri could get as much as $500 million to help victims of the opioid epidemic as part of a tentative settlement with the three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.

Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt said it would be the biggest "victim-centric" settlement ever in Missouri.

"While this proposed settlement won't bring back any of these victims, today's announcement brings the very real possibility of just over half a billion dollars that will go directly toward funding crucial addiction treatment, recovery, and intervention programs," Schmitt said in a statement.

Lawyers for state and local governments in the U.S. on Tuesday announced they were close to reaching a $26 billion settlement after suing to force the pharmaceutical industry to help pay to solve a nationwide opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

Under the deal, Johnson & Johnson would not produce any opioids for at least a decade. And AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson share prescribing information under a new system intended to stop the avalanches of pills that arrived in some regions about a decade ago.

Schmitt said Missouri counties must sign on to the agreement for the state to get its full share.

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